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Book Club Recommended
Slow, Interesting, Fun
Chick Wit at it's best

I did not know that Lisa Scottoline wrote a "Chick Wit" column for The Philadelphia Inquirer. I feel like I missed out when I wasn't subscribing to the paper - had I known I may have subscribed. Which is what this book is composed of, the articles (I believe with additions) from her column. Anxious to dive into the book, I opened it right up and started to gobble down the pages. When I was about 1/3 of the way into the book I realized that I wasn't noting all the things I loved about this book. I felt like I was sitting down and eating the best prime rib I ever ate and I wasn't savoring the taste; I was like a starving animal gorging on the meal without even taking the time to really taste it. So, I started over and savored each article. I have so many pages marked that if I gave you samplings of each one you would have no need to buy the book yourself.. and you should!


I would however like to give you a little sampling of some of my favorite entries. Before I do that let me first say that this book touched me in so many ways. Lisa Scottoline is raw and honest and absolutely hilarious. There were parts when I thought that this woman was absolutely crazy; like when she talks about going out without a bra or the reasons to love hot flashes. However, there were many more times while reading this book when I felt like we were kindred spirits; Like when she talks about how her dog sleeps on her pillow (My baby does the same thing!), being suggestible to everything I see (especially food), UnResolution Number Two (Yes I kiss my dogs on the lips - what of it??), UnResolution Number Seven (Yes I do need all those books overflowing on my shelves) and so many others.. too many to list! I certainly don't feel alone in my craziness anymore - Thank you Lisa! I found myself laughing out loud from so many of her stories, being able to relate. And I also found myself tearing up with some of her more sad stories; like her my estrogen is overflowing and I cry at everything.


Getting Religion was my favorite of the columns but if I quoted from it, it would be the whole column, so that's just one that you'll have to read on your own - but trust me it's worth it. Lets just say when she starts the religion, Sign me up! I'll tithe all day for that one!


These are not anywhere near all the excellent quotes in the book but here are some of my favorites:
From Everything is Nude Again: about Squeezing into Spanx, "From the front, I looked like a Tootsie Roll with Legs. From the back, instead of having a buttocks, I had buttock. In other words, my lower body had been transformed into a cylinder. I no longer had hips where hips are supposed to be, or saddlebags where God intended. I was a cardboard in the roll of toilet paper. And another detail. I couldn't breathe."
From Have It My Way: "I used to think of myself as low maintenance. I used to believe I was easy to please. But now I know better. Starbucks taught me the truth."
From Dream Job: "Its fun to do something dumb. Not something really dumb, like my second marriage. That was really really dumb."
I can't say enough about this book, it was refreshing and fun and I'm very glad I read it, I would recommend it to any woman.

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Interesting, Beautiful
WoWO Book Club Review

Dear John is the story of John Tyree and two very key relationships in his life. The relationship between him and Savannah, who he meets while home on leave from the Army. They have a whirlwind romance for a few fabulous weeks and then he must go back to Germany, where he is stationed. They write letters and their relationship takes ups and downs as any long distance relationship would. The other key relationship in John's life is the one with his father. John was raised by only his father after his mother left when he was young. They had a relationship that was built around collecting coins and not much else. John couldn't connect with his father on an emotional level and it led to his rebelling and to a strained relationship with his father.

The WoWO Book Club met and discussed the book (and Movie). Everyone in the group enjoyed the story. In this one we were split on most parts of the book. A few of the girls wished it would have ended differently but several of us thought that it was a realistic ending. We debated on whether John and Savannah were really in love or in some form of infatuation. I was one of the peope who thought that it was infatuation, especially on Savannah's part. For the most part we felt that without the story of John and Dad there wouldn't be much meat to this story. Sparks did a very good job with the Character development of John and the father. Their relationship was intriguing and touching. As favorite characters go - John received 8 votes and his father received 1 vote.

Happy Hour by Michele Scott
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Inspiring, Fantastic
WoWO Book Club Review

In this story about friendship and support, are 4 friends who are going through some of the toughest times in their lives. Kat, a bit of a control freak - but who can blame her, is the divorced mother of 2 boys. Jamie is a wife and mother when tragedy hits and she's left to take care of her mother-in-law and raise a child on her own. Alyssa has a past that nobody knows about, until it comes back to find her in several ways. Danielle, mother of two girls, is trying to get her vineyard up and running when life takes an unexpected turn. Through their trials, at least these women have each other and their "Happy Hour" gatherings to get them through.

Here is a summary of what we thought of the book as a group:

We all found these women very relateable and would want to have these women as our friends. Over all , the women in the book club enjoyed the book and reading about the lives of these women. Favorite guys voted by the group were Tyler and Christian and most relateable woman was Kat.

The writing style, where each chapter was a different women's perspective, was split. Some of us liked that aspect of it, while others felt it was disjointed because once you got into a particular aspect of the story it jumped to someone else.

The average rating from the 6 of us was a 3.8. We thought that the book started off a bit on the slow side but by page 178 (apparently a favorite page for several of the girls) it picked up and enticed us to read on. Everyone was glad they stuck with it as it definitely paid off in the end.

We were split on whether or not we would want to see a sequel to Happy Hour, but mostly because we didn't want to see these women go through any more turmoil than they had already been through. The one thing we would like to see if a sequel were written is Alyssa and Darren happily married and Ian healed and healthy. Something tells me that we are invested enough in these characters that we would read a sequel if Michele Scott chooses to write it.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
The WoWO Book Group Review (Spoilers)

The group as a whole enjoyed the story and loved the characters. One person rated the book 3.5 (due to subject matter not being her thing) but everyone else rated the book 4.5 to 5. Which is the highest ratings yet from the WoWO. We had one person who hadn't finished the book, but she will now that she has heard what we loved about the book. The group was torn on who their favorite character was. We all agree that the three main characters were wonderfully written and we loved them all. Minny is Ballsy and has a lot of Spunk, Aibileen was caring and nurturing and was the one to stick her neck out there and bring everyone together for the book to be a success. Skeeter was a great catalyst for change and shows that not everyone during this time felt the same. Our least favorite characters are pretty easy to guess if you read the book: Hilly being the number one choice, Leroy and Skeeter's mom were close behind in the votes. We all also agreed that Two Slice Hilly deserved what she got in that pie from Minny.

We all believed that if Aibileen stayed working for Elizabeth that there was a good chance Mae Mobley would have grown up to be just like her mother. Racism is taught and no matter what Aibileen tried to instill in her, the chances were slim that she would be different than the others as she grew up.

All of us felt that the setting was wonderfully written and you could picture the places and scenes vividly in your mind. The shifts in point of view gave a good and complete narrative to the places, people and events in the story and the character development was very well done. Several in the group didn't love the ending because they didn't feel they got the closure they needed for some of the characters. We are hoping that this was left open because there is a sequel coming, we would love to have another look into the lives of these women a few years down the road.

The Love Ceiling by Jean Davies Okimoto
 
Boring, Fun, Unconvincing
The WoWO Book Group Review

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Rounded down to 2)

This book was for our fourth Women of Washington Oaks (WoWO) Book Club meeting.

We won copies of this book from BookMovement.com, this is a fabulous site for book clubs, it's a great resource and they have lots of great giveaways! So thank you very much to Pauline from for notifying me that I won the books and hosting the giveaway. A big thank you goes to Jennifer Justice at Endicott & Hugh Books for sending the copies for the group to read.

Being that we won the copies of book, the WoWo's were very excited to read the book and discuss it and really wanted to love the book. But sadly several of us (4 to be exact) had trouble getting through the book, and started to skim to the end or completely stopped reading all together.

The story was a nice story but several of us felt that some of the story lines went too far and others didn't go anywhere at all.

Some of the favorite characters were:


Sam
Lena
Martha Jane

The discussion was very light on this book and although Peggy had a lot to say about the book, no one else could really answer the questions posed due to having trouble following the story or not being able to finish. I believe this to be mostly due to not being able to related to the characters and what they were going through. The storyline was not bad, however many of us felt that it was a bit dry at times and it was hard to hold our interest.

As we always try to do, we had something book related at the meeting. Since the book has painting as a major element of the history of the main characters, this time we had a canvas and paints. The WoWO painted a picture, inspired by the love ceiling's front cover with our own WoWO twist (you can see this at http://faithbookluvr.blogspot.com/2010/05/wowo-book-club-meeting-and-love-ceiling.html)

Wild Heart (Zebra Debut) by Lori Brighton
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Fun, Fantastic
WoWO Review of Wild Heart

In Sussex England in the late 1800's, Ella is hired to be governess to Leo Roberts who is the next in line for earldom. Leo, the grandson of Lord Roberts is said to be wild and in great need of refinement. Ella does not know what to expect from this boy who is to be earl, but how bad could it be? When Ella learns that the grandson to be Earl is actually a grown man she quickly becomes concerned that he is too wild to refine. Leo is completely untamed and animalisic, raised on his own in the wild of India after his parents were brutally murdered. Leo's grandfather needs Ella's help in making Leo presentable enough to take over earldom when the time comes. Ella wonders how she is suppose to make him presentable, refined and learn the ways of his class when he is a grown man who seems to be too wild to help and doesn't particular care to be helped. Ella, and this reader of the book, become taken with Leo rather quickly and their attraction is too wild to contain.

The romance scenes in this book are STEAMY and well written. Coming from someone who does not typically read romance, I was completely captivated by this story. This book is not just a Historical Romance, there is a twist of paranormal running through this book as well as some mystery and adventure. I don't want to give away anything to the plot so I left the paranormal out of the synopsis, but trust me it adds an extra element to make the story even better than the steamy attraction between Ella and Leo.

Personally , I absolutely loved this story. I wanted to give it 5 stars but just couldn't bring myself to do it. My main reason for giving the book a 4.5 over a 5 was more about the genre than the book itself, I think Im in denial that I love Historical Paranormal Romance. I can't find anything wrong with the story itself, the writing was absolutely spot on and perfect, but I have trouble giving 5 stars to a book that isn't a book like "The Help". I'm working on this though, and will definitely read the next book that Lori has coming out next year called "Wild Desire".

The WoWO Discussion (Contains Spoilers):

Everyone of the WoWO who read the book, loved it. We all pretty much agreed on every point of the discussion. We felt that in the beginning we did not know what to expect from this book. By the cover and synopsis it looked to be on the trashy side but once we started reading, it grabbed us and we realized quickly that it was very well written and the romance wasn't trashy at all. The different scenes and settings in the book were vivid and easily pictured. We thought that the supernatural elements (Ella feeling emotions) was a nice twist to the story, standing itself out from other Historical Romances. We liked that you didn't know much about Leo and his past but the reader learned about him through Ella's point of view, with her flashes of memories she got from Leo and his telling her stories as well.
During Leo and Ella's first conversation by the sea, everyone expected that Leo really needed Ella and we were surprised and happy that he was pretending to be savage and he was actually well spoken and intelligent. As far as the romance in the story goes, we though it was STEAMY and enticing and well done. Some of our favorite steamy scenes were the picture painting, the skinny dipping, the folly in the rain and the final love scene where they finally get to consumate their attraction. One of us was frustrated with the lack of completion of the earlier love scenes in the book, but the rest of us loved the suspense and attraction that it caused and how happy we felt when they finally did have their moment.
Some of the early suspects to Leo's parents death were Akshay, Henry, Henry's father. No one really suspected that the Grandfather was involved in the cover-up but we feel it made for a good twist to the story. The author stated to me in a note that readers either love Leo or hate him and we can't figure out why anyone would hate him, he was absolutely perfect. Everyone liked Ella and felt she was a lucky girl to have found Leo :) (Hey Jealousy!) Everyone's favorite character was.. surprise --- LEO. Our Least favorite character was the Grandfather - only cared about a having a proper successor and didn't care who was hurt in the process.
Our final thoughts on the story were that we all enjoyed the book more than we thought we would at first, it was a very pleasant surprise. We would definitely recommend the book to others (I already have!) One of us, loved the meat of the story but was disappointed in the beginning and the ending, she felt the ending left too many loose ends. Everyone else however, loved how the ending was left open for more of the story to come later in another book.

We felt the cover of the book was fitting to the story. We thought the title was good but something more savage like would have been more fitting for us... "Savage Heart" was our best take at a good title (We don't claim to be experts here..lol)
We as a group would love to read her next book called "Wild Desire", coming out in 2011. This book features Ella's cousin Colin, so we hope it continues the story. We would however be more excited to read the continuation of Ella and Leo's story. We would like to see a follow up on the Statues mentioned in the story and more about what the map is, as well as what the future holds for Leo, Ella, Akshay and Fran.

 
Book Club Recommended
Boring, Inspiring, Slow
WoWO Book Club Review (Spoilers Included)

Author Elizabeth Gilbert has been through an emotionally exhausting divorce and the breakup of a tumultuous love affair in a very short time period. After which she realizes, as most women do in relationships, she has lost her own identity and her own way in life. This realization leads her on a year long spiritual journey like no other that she shares with the reader along her way in Eat, Pray, Love. This memoir is written in three sections: Italy (Eat), India (Pray) and finally Indonesia (Love). With raw emotion and a window into her soul, Elizabeth Gilbert shares with the reader her amazing journey to spiritual self acceptance.

Almost Everyone loved the format of the book with 108 short chapters and 3 main sections (Eat, Pray, Love), most of us felt that this format made it easy to stay interested and helped the book flow quickly. One of us felt that the short chapters dampened the flow. We all felt like entertainment and pleasure were on the same level for American's. Music, Food and Art, can all be entertaining, and we can all find pleasure in these. We discussed Gilbert's life before her self discovering journey and felt that in her earlier relationships she wasn't happy with herself and she jumped too quickly into the arms of men, like a lot of us women. For most women, Men seem to fog our ability to make sound and reasonable decisions.

A few of us did relate to the spiritual aspects in the story but not everyone liked the spiritual elements in India, most keyed on the personal journey of self acceptance to be what they related to. We felt that her journey was less about persistence and more about perseverance: She didn't plan anything and she was also so she had to make her own way. I honestly didn't think about the fact that she's traveling and not having to worry about the money so persistence is necessary if she was to get her money's worth out of her trip. We felt that not everyone's spiritual journey is related to religion itself, but can still be spiritual in it's own way. We learned that Tricia is married to her soul mate (you sappy sweetie you) and she learned this while reading the book. The favorite section of the book for most of the group was Love (Indonesia) with 6 votes, second was Eat (India) with 3 votes (her descriptions of the food were incredible), and no one had Pray (India) as their favorite section. We appreciated it for what it was, but most felt that the details were a bit slow for reading.

Some of our favorite scenes where:
Pizza Trip in Bali
The trip with her girlfriend to Sicily
The Roof Scene (probably the favorite of all the scenes)
The initial sex scene with Felipe - we felt she earned it.
Any scene with Felipe
the banana talks with Wayan. HILARIOUS stuff.

Favorite Characters where:
Richard from Texas (he gave the best advice!)
Wayan (she was a hoot)
Ketut
Felipe
Gilbert herself

Favorite Quotes:
"Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be."
"The best way for a woman to get over a man is to get under another man"
"She's f---ing with you Groceries" - we just love that Richard calls her Groceries
"let your conscience be your guide"
"To find the balance you want, Ketut spoke through his translator, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that its like you have four legs, instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God."
“I have finally arrived at that age where a woman starts to question whether the wisest way to get over the loss of one beautiful brown-eyed young man is indeed to promptly invite another one into her bed.”

Everyone enjoyed the book for the most part, India was where everyone thought the book lulled but felt restored in the story when they got to Indonesia. If we were able to travel for a year, we would go all over the world: Italy, Ireland, California, Germany, Greece, China, Spain, a tour of Southern Europe, Australia. Everyone thought the cover of the book fit the story, 7 of us liked the original cover better and liked how the words were spelled in ways relevant to the locations. One of us liked the cover with Julia Roberts best. Six of us decided that we would probably like to read Committed and continue on with the story after Gilbert returns to America.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Fun
WoWO Book Club Meeting and The Education of Mrs. Brimley Review

In an effort to escape her life in London, Emma obtains a teaching position at the Pettibone School for Young Ladies in Yorkshire. In order to get this position, she had to tell a little lie, that she is a young widow. Little does she know that this lie will come back to get her once she starts at the school: She is expected to teach the young women how to pleasure their future husbands in bed. Being that this is 1876 and Emma has in fact never been married, she is desperate to learn what she is to teach in the class. Emma cannot come clean because she cannot risk being sent back home to live with her uncle and in her desperation she seeks the help of the neighbor, Lord Nicholas Chambers, who is a bachelor with a reputation as "Lord BedChambers".

The WoWo's all agree this was a pretty steamy and very enjoyable book. The writing style was smooth and very easy to read. We all felt that the setting of the 1800's and Yorkshire was important to the story, because this type of story would never work today and the Pettibone School for Girls and Black Oak fit the scenery. The were Vivid and well defined, especially the Black Oak Studio. The only issue we had with the setting was that we had trouble determining the distance between Black Oak and the Pettibone School. Between the walking and the Carriage rides and various back and forth descriptions, it was hard to determine it's true distance. This however did not ruin the story for us.

Our first impressions of Emma were that although she was naive she had spunk and was pretty gutsy to search out the job and then search out help from Lord Chambers. At first it seemed a bit far fetched that she would reach out for help from this stranger, but it worked because she was desperate with no other choices. Our first impressions of Nicholas was that we liked him right from the beginning. A nice mix of sarcasm and wit in a handsome male lead character is always a good thing.

 
Adventurous, Inspiring, Fun
A good Solid Young adult Read

Michael Vey is a 14-year-old boy who has Tourette Syndrome in a small town in Idaho. He seems normal enough for a teenager even with the Tourettes, he's bullied but always seems to be the one getting detention and doesn't have many friends - he's seems to be a typical awkward teenager. Michael pretty much tries to keep to himself and get through the day. Michael however is very far from normal. Although he doesn't know how or why Michael can shock people with electricity running through his body. He has tried hard to keep this hidden from everyone with the exception of his mother and his best friend, Ostin, who is a genius. One day Michael can't take the bullying anymore and he accidentally shocks his bullies in frustration. This wouldn't be an issue, because who really would believe the bullies if they said Michael shocked them with electricity, they would seem crazy. The problem is there was a witness, A cheerleader named Taylor. It turns out that Taylor also has similar electric powers and they soon learn that they are being searched out and collected with other teens that have electric type powers, but their intentions are far from innocent.

I tend to enjoy Young Adult reads when they are done right and this one definitely was. I really enjoyed meeting Michael and his friends and getting to know the characters as the story progressed. There was a bullying theme through the book and it was interesting to see the "Bully's side of the story" in a way. I am very happy to see that it's actually a series and I will definitely continue reading it.

As noted above this was an audio book and the narrator did a really good job. I liked his voice and different inflections for all the characters and he kept me engaged in the story. Between the story and the narrator I never felt my mind wander to other things as audio books sometimes do for me.

The only reason that I did not give it an 8/10 rating is because i probably wouldn't re-read it.

All in all, it was a good solid read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful

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